Ashfield District Councillors vote against a cut in their allowances

Ashfield District councillor Gail Turner
Ashfield District councillor Gail Turner

Ashfield councillors have voted against having their allowances slashed and the money given to community causes.

A motion proposing that the basic allowance for members of Ashfield District Council should be cut by £2,000 put forward by Selston councillor Gail Turner was rejected at the full meeting of Ashfield District Coucnil last night (Thursday October 16).

The councillor said that she and other members should have their allowances slashed to help fund services threatened with cuts.

Coun Turner also wanted to see all special responsibility allowances - extra money given to councillors with additional roles in the council - cut in half.

She said that all the savings made should be used to support council services that are set to see their funding reduced due to cuts in Government grants to the authority.

“With all the cuts to council finances it is high time that councillors took a hit too,” she said.

“This will save the taxpayers of Ashfield £160,000 per annum and should be used to maintain services for Ashfield residents.”

Councillors on Ashfield District Council received a basic allowance for the year ending 2014/15 of £6,690.51, costing the council more than £220,000.

The leader of the council receives a special responsibility allowance of more than £18,000, with other positions that attract extra money including deputy leader and the chairmen of committees, plus leaders of the political groups.

She said the £2,000 cut would bring Ashfield District Councillors in line with other authorities such as Broxtowe District Council where the allowances were £3,000.

Conservative councillor Michael Murphy said the Conservatives agreed with the motion in principle but proposed an amendment that the money saved should go to support local community groups and not to support the council budget, where he said it would be “Squandered on other things.”

Coun Turner accepted the amendment.

Council leader Cheryl Butler, said: “I’m not quite sure why Councillor Turner has accepted the amendment when she said significant savings would be used to uphold services.

“As leader I am quite committed to ensuring despite the recent budget savings due to austerity measures in recent years this council manges to uphold its front line services.

She said the council’s current scheme was introduced following the recommendation of an independent remuneration panel in 2012 .

She said the council is required to review its members remuneration scheme every four years.

A review of members allowances was to take placein the New Year which was the most appropriate way to change the existing scheme.

She added: “Members who wish to do so can write to the Deputy Chief Executive and renounce their allowance.

“I’m not aware in recent years that any councillor has done this.”

She said she was happy to look at value for money regarding members attendance at meetings. A new scheme in the new year would make this process more transparent.

The proposal was voted down by 18 votes to 11. Councillors also voted against a proposal by Coun Turner to have individual votes recorded for publication in the minutes of the meeting.